WHAT WE THINK:
– An atmospheric film that overturns some preconceptions.
JUST A FEW WORDS (IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT):
After the very particular Goodnight Mommy (2014), the directors Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, return to the scene proposing a new film The Lodge which shares some atmospheres and aesthetic choices with the previous work.
The initial sequence, through the symbolic use of the doll house, stages what appears to be a mise-en-abyme of the cinematographic narrative mechanism and is almost there to show how a potential life with the mother still alive could proceed in an alternative, fictional world.
But soon enough, the dollhouse, from being used as a way to relive and imagine an alternative life, reverses its course as signifier and assumes destructive traits (instead of creative ones) and becomes almost a set for general rehearsals: how to build a “credible” narration that can bring the protagonist (and with her the spectator – therefore the others and not the kids themselves and creators like it had happened up until that point) to believe something that is different from reality.
In fact one of the most interesting things about the film lies in the reversal of expectations and preconceptions: we suspect that all of us, at one point, believed that the father was simply mad to leave his children with a person who had had such a violent trauma. Just to make us realise, soon after that, the opposite (and with it the social prejudice we have): it is the traumatised person who is always the weakest and most manipulable, to the point that it is the children (and their fictitious narrative) that make her go out of her mind.
Yes, it is indeed true that once she loses it, so to speak, she kills the father and in all probability also the children: but it is the chains of cause-effect that are interesting and with them the numbers of prejudices that still accompany the mental illnesses.
There has been, in the world, a certain hype about a film like Joker which in a sense and in a much more explicit and perhaps rough way, staged cause-effect chains in some way similar to the ones in this film (we want to state clearly that this wouldn’t really be our reading of Joker, but one that could be indeed taken and definitely one of its traits).
A film like The Lodge does it in a much more subterranean and subtle way and consequently even closer to the real and hidden dynamics (despite the un-realistic aura that the visual language is based upon) which we often try to keep away from our gaze.
- Atmosphere: every element of the visual language contribute to the anxious tension (the dollies, the blurring in the dollhouse, the framing of the paintings, the choice of the setup).
- The theme of the (perceived) replacement of a parent and its refusal.
- A degree of ambiguity which maybe invite to a second viewing to understand all the facets (ex. the gun at the beginning and at the end).
- A film that takes place in a house far far away from anything else. Hmm.
- Yes, the father is a quite ridiculous character.
- Maybe the directors liked Hereditary too much. They’ve “borrowed” a great deal of elements both in terms of audiovisual and conceptual language and set design.
- In some points, the narration could involve the spectator a little bit more in the though processes and less on the oneiric level (which sometimes result a little bit lazy in terms of inventiveness).
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